The 64th annual Christmas with Wartburg concert will celebrate Christmas throughout the world, featuring well-known pieces sung in languages of their origin and new compositions.

Tickets will go on sale Monday, Oct. 31, for the Friday, Dec. 2, concert at the Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines and three performances Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 3-4, in Neumann Auditorium at Wartburg.

The theme, “Savior of the Nations, Come,” is based on the well-known hymn translated by Martin Luther. Dr. Lee Nelson, director of choral activities, said the concert will combine traditional pieces and works from other cultures.

“We have well-known carols sung in their original languages — German, French, Norwegian and Spanish,” Nelson said, “as well as new pieces from Africa, Haiti and South America.”

Two up-and-coming young composers who contributed works to the 2010 concert — Joshua Evanovich, a 2007 Wartburg alumnus, and Stanford Scriven, a recent St. Olaf College graduate— were commissioned to do original pieces. In addition, Craig Curry, an award-winning composer of Christmas jazz music, has written a “Gloria” movement set as a samba.

Dr. Karen Black, professor of music, wrote an original work for the opening processional based on the “Savior of the Nations, Come” hymn.

“I wanted a celebration of Advent and Christmas throughout the world, but with the familiarity of the season still in the concert,” Nelson said. “The program is a really nice balance of celebrations of music from around the world, incorporating many traditional Christmas pieces.”

Performing groups include the Wartburg Wind Ensemble under the direction of Dr. Craig A. Hancock; the Castle Singers vocal jazz ensemble and the St. Elizabeth Chorale women’s choir, both directed by Dr. Jane Andrews; and the Wartburg Choir and Ritterchor men’s choir, directed by Nelson.

World-renowned bass-baritone Simon Estes, distinguished professor of music and artist in residence, will sing a solo and a piece with the combined choirs.

Donald Meyer and Kathryn Koob will provide the narration, joined by students who will be speaking in different languages.

The music will be complemented by a new computer-generated backdrop — 20 panels sewn together into an 18- by 66-foot mural — created by Chris Knudson, a 2001 graduate and former Wartburg Choir member, who is now creative strategist in the college’s marketing department.

“You get the crispness of the colors and shapes from a computer graphic, while changes in the lighting will make it look like a different piece of art, ” Nelson said. “Within the layers of shapes and colors are liturgical images, which are almost hidden. There’s a butterfly on one side of the mural symbolizing the resurrection, while on the other you’ll see a phoenix, another symbol of the resurrection. There’s an image of Bethlehem and also the Wartburg Castle.”

General seating for the Dec. 2 concert at 7:30 p.m. at the Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines can be purchased in advance at the church bookstore, 925 Jordan Creek Parkway, or online at

The campus performances will be Saturday, Dec. 3, at 3 and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 4 at 3 p.m. Reserved-seat tickets of $15 and $5 for rear balcony seats can be purchased at the information center desk in Saemann Student Center from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, by calling 319 352-8691, or online at

A meal will be available both nights at 5 p.m. for $22. Reservations are required.